LATIN AMERICA: Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Against Women is Widespread in 12 Latin American Countries

Thursday, January 17, 2013
Costa Rica Star
Central America
South America
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

A new report published by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries studied, between 17% and 53% of women interviewed reported having suffered physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. In seven of the countries, more than one in four women reported such violence.

The report, Violence Against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean: a comparative analysis of population-based data from 12 countries, shows that between 41% and 82% of women who were abused by their partner experienced a physical injury, ranging from cuts and bruises to broken bones, miscarriages, and burns. Despite this, between 28% and 64% did not seek help or speak to anyone about their experience of violence.

The comparative analysis also shows that between 10% and 27% of women in these countries reported having experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, either by partners or by other perpetrators, but usually by men whom they already knew.

The report also highlights the intersections between violence against women and violence against children. Across the 12 countries studied, women who were beaten in childhood reported experiencing partner violence in adulthood at significantly higher rates than those who did not suffer violence in childhood.

“In addition to violating basic human rights, violence against women has serious consequences for the health of women and their children and impacts heavily on health services and health workers in the Region,” said Dr. Mirta Roses, PAHO's Director.

This is the first time that nationally representative data have been analyzed and presented in a single comparative format that allows a snapshot of what is known about violence against women in Latin America and the Caribbean. The 156-page report presents a comparative analysis of data from interviews with more than 180,000 women in Bolivia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Peru.

“It is our hope that this report will motivate decision-makers to invest more resources in implementing evidence-based strategies that will prevent violence against women from ever taking place,” said Alessandra Guedes, PAHO Regional Advisor for Intra-family Violence and co-author of the report.

PAHO is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.